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Cayman’s Tourism Industry Honors Outstanding Work with Stingray Awards




Southern Cross Club’s Peter Hillenbrand Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

The Cayman Islands honored the best of the best in the tourism industry during the annual Stingray Awards gala in June. The awards were created by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to reward outstanding work in the industry, and the recognition comes after a busy high season. All year long divemasters, concierges, beach staff, food servers, shop attendants and others do their best to make sure guests have a great time while on vacation in the Cayman Islands.

To reward them for that hard work, hoteliers, dive operators and other tourism related businesses nominate employees for the awards, and the winners are selected by committee. The winners receive a crystal stingray trophy during the celebration which has become a highlight of the year for the tourism industry, a pillar of Cayman’s economy.

Stingray Award Winners included:

  • Lois Hatcher, Ocean Frontiers – Watersports Employee of the Year
  • Daniel Bond, Red Sail Sports – Watersports Manager of the Year
  • Betise Bodden, Sunset House – Accommodation Employee of the Year
  • Pat Kenney, Tortuga Divers (Red Sail Group) – Long Service to Tourism Industry

CITA President Ken Hydes received a special Tourism Minister’s Award and owner of the Southern Cross Club on Little Cayman Peter Hillenbrand was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the industry.

“To be honored with a Life Time Achievement Award by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and my peers in the Cayman tourism industry is an honor beyond compare,” said Hillenbrand. “There are so many people I respect and admire in Cayman’s tourism product that it is a bit humbling for them to single me out for this honor.”

After almost 30 years in the dive industry, Lois Hatcher’s passion is coral restoration. She has been involved in two major reef restoration projects in Cayman and is currently managing Ocean Frontiers’ new coral nursery.

“I feel honored that I was recognized for what we have done here and I emphasize the we,” said Hatcher. “When I came back here three years ago my goal was to get Coral Nurseries started in Cayman. So I guess, and once again there were many people involved, that is my proudest achievement.”

Pat Kenney, recognized as one of the founders of Stingray City, has also been involved in Cayman’s tourism industry for decades. Marine conservation and sustainable tourism is a priority for him, in light of development projects in the works.

“These islands, it’s people and environment have always been an easy “sell” and the main reason visitors come here,” he said. “Destroying our precious reefs and flora/fauna for cruise ships, or another golf course appear to not have the island or its inhabitants in mind.”

Sunset House General Manager Keith Sahm says Cayman’s oldest surviving resort requires a special touch to maintain, just like a classic car. Betise Bodden, recently promoted to Lead Housekeeper overseeing the overall quality and cleanliness of the property, has that special touch.

“Month after month, her work has been consistent while being exposed to the basic elements of our climate. It’s back breaking work without which no resort could remain in demand or maintain its rating on websites like Trip Advisor. We function and succeed due to the efforts of stellar employees like Betise and are proud of her accomplishments,” said Sahm. “Day after day she never complains or misses work and she sets the bar for other employees to follow. We fully appreciate her and thank her deeply for her efforts.”

Cayman’s tourism product is recognized as among the best in the Caribbean for its white sand beaches, clear blue waters, spectacular reefs, awesome marine encounters and accommodations for every budget, but everyone acknowledges that people make the difference.

“Stingray Awards are important because they recognize the passion and enthusiasm people who work in the service industry portray,” said Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall. “It is an opportunity to recognize both the front and back of house staff, the new to the ranks and those who have dedicated a good portion of their lives to tourism. Product in tourism is important, but the people that showcase the product more often than not are the ones that create the vacation memories of visitors.”


White Shark Interest Group Podcast #009 – SURVIVING A SHARK ATTACK with DAVE PEARSON



Ninth in an exciting podcast series from Ricardo Lacombe of the White Shark Interest Group.

Episode 9 of the White Shark Interest Group Podcast, Facebook’s’ largest White Shark specific group, covering science, conservation, news, photography, video and debate.

This episode features Melissa speaking with shark attack survivor Dave Pearson, about his experience, the aftermath and trauma for all involved, and the social media comments and victim blaming following an incident or attack.

Dave is the founder of Bite Club, a support group for survivors of attacks and bites, as well as for the families and friends of victims following a tragic incident.

He also established Beyond The Bite, a support organisation serving many purposes for anyone involved in shark attacks, from helping to get surfers back in the water, to covering costs of families who need to travel to the site of a loved ones attack.

This is a MUST LISTEN for all shark advocates as Dave and Melissa discuss how advocates can really help in the aftermath and reporting of an incident, and how shark advocates can become human advocates at the right time it is needed most. A real eye-opener of an episode.

Bite Club can be found on Facebook here:… Beyond The Bite can be found here: and would appreciate ANY donations you could make to help survivors and their families

Click the links below to listen to the podcast series on the following audio channels:

Join the group:



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Ultimate Diving Maldives Offer



7 nights at the Bandos Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives – From £2555 per person

Bandos Island Resort & Spa has already welcomed its first guests to the Maldives since March, with more divers heading off this December trying to escape the chilly UK weather. The Maldives is a dream destination, it offers a range of blue lagoons, deserted islands, a true sense of romance and tranquillity but above all amazing diving.

This destination should be on every diver’s bucket list, especially those with a non-diving partner because there is enough going on to ensure everyone will have a great time. The Maldives are the ultimate island paradise with each one offering dazzling white sandy beaches topped with coconut palm trees and turquoise blue lagoons.

Bandos Island is fully encircled by pearly white beaches, turquoise waters and a never-ending blue sky blessed with abundant sunshine. The house reef at Bandos is considered one of the best in North Male Atoll and the convenient location of Bandos allows divers to choose from over 40 impressive dive sites.

Book 7 nights from £2555. Price includes flights from London, speedboat transfers, 7 nights’ accommodation on an all-inclusive basis and 10 shore dives per person. Single supplement applies.

To enquire or book, visit or give the team a call on 0208 655 6458  and they can give you the lowdown on the destination and diving.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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